Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the pass five or so years, you know that steroids and the talk thereof have taken over Major League Baseball. It’s become such a part for conversation that it’s not a surprise when accusations of steroid use comes up. However, even with players, clubhouse attendants and trainers being implicated, attendance remains high and the game seems as popular as ever.
But that hasn’t in any way buried the issue of performance enhancing drugs in the sport. HGH, testosterone, BALCO, the cream and the clear are just as synonymous with baseball as peanuts and crackerjacks. Many stars and “regular” players have been connected to steroid/performance enhancing use — Mark McGwire, Raphael Palmiero, Jose Guillen, to name a few.
However, the face of the “steroid era” has been Barry Bonds. Bonds, now the all-time career leader in home runs has been accused of steroid use for what seems like forever. He has been connected to BALCO — the lab that supplied the cream and the clear and was connected to Marion Jones and has, in front of a grand jury, testified that he has not knowingly used steroids.
Now, even a blind man can see the change in Bonds body in the late 90s into the new century. Because of that, along with the sudden surge in power numbers, all signs pointed to aggressive steroid use. But nobody could prove he used steroids and he never failed a test. Yet, he was booed, crucified in the media and in public opinion.
Many called it a witch-hunt. As Bonds approached Hank Aaron’s hallowed home run No. 755, there wasn’t a stadium outside of San Francisco where he wasn’t booed mercifully. Many called it racial. It was because he was black that the media and fans where piling on him. Some wanted to wait and see how these same people would react when and if a big time white athlete was connected.
So, when the Mitchell Report was released and Roger Clemens name was in it, I sat up and started to pay attention, because it appeared he was in deep trouble. A trainer whom he had a close relationship with gave specific details on Clemens’ use — complete with times, dates and locations.
I’ll give Clemens this, after some delay initially, he has been campaigning hard for his innocence. 60 Minutes, press conferences, even shaking hands with members of congress who will oversee his congressional hearing. But the fact remains, his name is now connected to the steroid era and while the media has covered this story extensively, it doesn’t seem to have as much venom as it does with the discussion is about Bonds/
So, is Clemens getting a pass? If so, why? Is it because he, unlike Bonds, has generally been good with the media. Is it because of is iconic status? Or is it because of the color of his skin.
We’ll see how this plays out.
[Update: America’s favorite columnist — Jason Whitlock, has an interesting take on the situation.]